Slow Cook

The Perfect Instant Pot Soy Chicken

November 25, 2019
10 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food Stylist: Drew Aichele. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine.
Author Notes

With this recipe, every lover of soy chicken can easily make it at home. Every home chef has an opinion of what goes in this dish, but my signature ingredient is bacon! —GG Wang

Test Kitchen Notes

Growing up, my favorite dish was my mom’s see yao gai (“soy sauce chicken”)—not for the chicken, but for the sauce. I loved how it, alone, upgraded dried mushrooms or a bowl of rice, and would always leave my lips coated in a chickeny sheen. And I wasn’t alone—at a family potluck, I caught Ryan and Kevin, my honorary cousins if not siblings, spooning the sauce straight from the platter (“Dude ... it’s the sauce!”). Too embarrassed to ever exercise my accented Cantonese, I reduced see yao gai to “Brown Sauce Chicken,” and later, for the sake of expediency, “BSC.”

GG Wang’s version, here, a “BSC in an IP” if you will, rids the home cook of any worry of an overcooked bird. But let’s not forget The Sauce: GG’s version is heavily spiced, rich with both light and dark soy, and slicked with the goodness that comes with cooking a whole chicken with bacon (what a signature add!). —Coral Lee

  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Serves 4
  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated in room temperature water for at least 1 hour
  • 1/2 cup cubed bacon
  • 3 pods star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon whole white peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil (such as avocado, safflower, or grapeseed)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar, light or dark
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh ginger
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and cut to 3-inch lengths
  • 2 red chile peppers (such as cayenne)
  • 2 tablespoons fermented black bean sauce (optional)
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing cooking wine or dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1 (3 to 3 1/2–pound) whole chicken
  • 1 to 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
In This Recipe
  1. Crisp the bacon in a medium skillet set over medium heat. Set aside crisped bacon and rendered fat.
  2. In a small, dry pan set over medium-low heat, toast the star anise, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and peppercorns until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Set the Instant Pot to “Sauté” mode. Add the oil and sugar to the insert of the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, 7 to 10 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, shallots, scallions, peppers, and fermented black bean sauce (if using). Cook until the aromatics have softened, and are starting to caramelize, another 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Add the rehydrated mushrooms and their water, toasted spices, crisped bacon, rendered fat, cooking wine, dark soy, and light soy. Stir to combine well, scraping up any browned bits. Add in whole chicken, breast side up, then pour in just enough water to barely cover the chicken. Set the Instant Pot to “Slow Cook,” and the timer for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  5. Tilting the chicken upwards, lift and drain off any excess sauce. Place chicken on a serving platter and set aside. Fish out the mushrooms, and plate them around the chicken (or just eat them before anyone else notices, yum!).
  6. While the chicken is resting, use a slotted spoon to strain out and discard the rest of the solids. Set the Instant Pot to “Sauté,” and reduce the liquid until slightly thickened, about 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in vinegar and half of the sesame oil, then transfer sauce to a gravy bowl for serving.
  7. The last step seems cosmetic, but it's essential for an eye-popping presentation. Brush the remaining tablespoon of sesame oil all over the bird. Now carve it up and enjoy with your family and friends!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Laura Echerd
    Laura Echerd
  • Virginia Reichardt
    Virginia Reichardt
  • Jesse Rodriguez
    Jesse Rodriguez
  • Ron Rodriguez
    Ron Rodriguez
  • Thulan Unsoeld
    Thulan Unsoeld